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Editor sentenced in absentia to one month in prison

(JED/IFEX) - Kinshasa, 6 July 2011 - Freddy Mulumba Kabwaya, managing editor of "Le Potentiel", one of the largest privately-owned dailies in Kinshasa, was in court on 6 July to appeal against a sentence handed down one month earlier, while he was away on a business trip, to one month in jail and US$5,000 in damages.

The lawsuit was filed against Mulumba and his newspaper by Sylvère Boswa, secretary-general of the Congolese Communist Party (PCCO).

"Le Potentiel" had earlier published an article criticising Boswa's management and claiming he had failed to defend the PCCO values of justice, equality and transparency within the party.

Four days before the article appeared, Télé 7, a TV station owned by the same media group as "Le Potentiel", broadcast an announcement by a group of PCCO members that Boswa had been thrown out of the party for mismanagement. Télé 7 reportedly refused to broadcast Boswa's response to the allegations, claiming they were disinclined to debate the issue further.

While not wishing to comment on the nature of the allegations against Mulumba, JED nevertheless believes that the sentencing of a journalist in absentia is unwarranted and supports Mulumba's lawyer's appeal to the Kinshasa/Gombe High Court.

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